September 2016 Newsletter
In This Issue
Regional Forum Roadshow
Tips for RX Drug Abuse Prevention
YLC Members of the Month
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Regional Forum Roadshow
It was a busy September for Texans Standing Tall!
TST has been hard at work providing Reduce the Use Webinars and Regional Forums for coalitions and community members interested in learning how to reduce youth alcohol use.
The week of September 19-23, our CEO Nicole Holt and Office Manager Stephanie Stutts traveled to Garland,Waxahachie, and Corsicana to provide Regional Forums with our local regional partners: Impact Waxahachie, Impact Ennis, Impact Communities (Garland, Rowlett, and Sachse), Impact Cedar Hill, Impact Navarro, Impact Navarro College, and Drug Prevention Resources. Regional Forums serve as a way to provide community members with the information and tools necessary to effect change at the local, regional, and state levels. TST's Board President Sharon Goldblatt also attended the Forums and gave a 10-minute talk about how forum participants could take the next step in reducing underage alcohol use. Holt also gave the Reduce the Use Forum at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission's Fall Prevention Provider Meeting on the evenings of September 26 and 27.
The Forum focuses on evidence-based strategies to lower the risk of underage alcohol use because alcohol remains the primary drug of choice. Alcohol is a gateway to other drugs and is often associated with risky behavior like unwanted or unplanned sexual activity, low test scores, truancy, and unintentional injuries. The risks for underage alcohol use doesn't stop there, youth who drink are also at a higher risk for suicide, violent acts, and traffic fatalities.
The presentation covers the types of strategies that the Surgeon General, Institute of Medicine, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization all agree on the best ways to reduce underage alcohol use.
Visit our website or email us for more information on statewide use trends, health impacts, and the most proven ways to create positive change and decrease youth access to alcohol.
TST Staff Present at the National Prevention Network Conference
Three Texans Standing Tall staff members had the opportunity to present at the 29th Annual National Prevention Network (NPN) Conference in Buffalo, NY.
The NPN conference highlights the latest research in the substance abuse prevention field. Prevention professionals, coalition leaders, researchers and federal partners come together to share research, best practices and promising evaluation in order to transform the latest research into action.
Christi Koenig-Brisky, TST's Research and Program Specialist, participated on a panel about Screening and Brief Intervention (SBI) and the benefits of early intervention. Her presentation covered Texans Standing Tall's Screening and Brief Intervention Project, which allows TST to work with college campuses throughout the state in order to help them implement SBI as a primary prevention tool.
TST's Strategy Specialist, Brian Lemons, gave a presentation entitled "Using Social Media to Break Up Parties." During his presentation, Lemons discussed using innovative technology to help law enforcement and coalitions advance local efforts to reduce underage alcohol use.
Atalie Nitibhon, TST's Director of Research and Advocacy, along with Lemons, gave a presentation on TST's Alcohol vs. Athletes poster in order to share information about the ways alcohol affects athletic performance. Their presentation, "More than a Hangover: Consequences of Alcohol Use by Student Athletes," covered why athletes are considered a higher risk group for underage and risky alcohol use, as well as the role coaches and athletic support staff can play in reducing alcohol use among their players.
In addition to presenting, TST staff were able to attend sessions during the three-day conference. Lemons attended a presentation where the outcomes associated with alcohol were measured based on age of first use.
"One of the more interesting things I took away from that particular presentation is the longer we can delay onset of alcohol consumption - even if it's just sipping - the better the positive outcomes," Lemons said.
Tell us your story!
Do you have a story about how tobacco and alcohol have affected your life or someone you know? Maybe you were the catalyst behind them making a change. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to make your story known!
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Tips for prescription drug abuse prevention
As of Sept. 1, Texas law enforcement now has a new tool to oversee prescription drug investigations. The Commissioned Online Prescription System (COPS), a secure online system only accessible to law enforcement, will allow law enforcement officials to be more effective in finding prescription drug abuse, patients who are doctor shopping or forging prescriptions, and physicians who are illegally writing prescriptions.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 19 percent of Texas students in grades 9-12 reported taking a prescription drug without a doctor's prescription in 2013. There is more that we can do to prevent youth from endangering themselves or getting to the point where law enforcement needs to intervene.
These are a few things adults can do to keep our communities healthy and safe:
1. Closely monitor your medicine. Parents and grandparents should keep track of the pills in a bottle and the frequency of refills.
2. Monitor your teen's medicine. Parents should closely monitor the dosages and refills and lock all medications in a secure space if their teen is prescribed a drug.
3. Encourage vigilance in others. Encourage other adults in households that your child frequently visits to also monitor, secure, and dispose of their prescription drugs.
4. Proper storage. Store all medication in a locked or secure location.
5. Proper disposal. Properly dispose of outdated and unneeded medication. Medicines should not be flushed down the toilet or put into the trash, as they can be harmful to the environment. For example, flushed medications can sometimes be found in drinking water.
The safest way to dispose of your outdated or unused prescription drugs is to take them to a Take Back Day or visit Drug Drop Box to locate a drop box in your community. To learn more about how you can host a drug take back day in your community, check out Texans Standing Tall's tool kit. Additionally, the DEA's next National Prescription Drug Take Back Day will be Oct. 22, 2016. Visit their website to find out more about drop off locations near you.
September is National Healthy Aging Month
September is national Healthy Aging Month. Texans Standing Tall's mission is to create healthier and safer communities so that Texas youth can live the healthiest lives possible.
This is why we work tirelessly to educate communities across the state about the dangers of alcohol use at a young age. Alcohol can cause permanent damage to person's well being and life in a single incident or through damage over time.
In the short term, alcohol effects the brain as soon as drinking begins. According to the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth, the first time the average young person has a drink is in middle school around 13 years old. However, a person's brain is not fully developed until he or she is about 25 years old. That means the younger a people begin drinking alcohol, the more damage they are causing to their brain. The immediate effects of alcohol on the brain are blackouts, memory loss, slurred speech, difficulty walking, and other coordination issues.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, "[studies on long term alcohol abuse] have detected deficits in alcoholics, particularly in the frontal lobes, which are responsible for numerous functions associated with learning and memory, as well as in the cerebellum, which controls movement and coordination[.]" The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that youth who start using alcohol before age 15 are six times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse later in life than those who begin drinking at or after age 21.
Over time, alcohol use can cause serious damage to the heart. It can also cause arrhythmias, cardiomyopathy, high blood pressure, and even stroke.
Chronic drinkers are more likely to suffer from liver cirrhosis, inflamed pancreas, and a weakened immune system that makes the body an easier target for disease like pneumonia and tuberculosis. Binge drinking on even just a single occasion can slow your body's ability to ward off infections.
Additionally, there is clear evidence that alcohol use causes seven different types of cancer, including cancers of the mouth and throat, esophagus, larynx, liver, color, rectum and breast. Healthy Aging Month, which leads into October's Breast Cancer awareness month, is the perfect opportunity to spread the news about the cancer risks associated with alcohol consumption - even at the moderate level.
According to breastcancer.org, women who drink on average have a 15 percent increased risk of getting breast cancer compared to those who don't.
The first step to keeping your body healthy involves educating yourself about the risks associated with alcohol. Head over to our website to take a look at our alcohol and athletes poster for more information about the effects of alcohol on the body.
Youth Leadership Council:
Member of the Month
Texans Standing Tall congratulates Youth Leadership Council (YLC) Angel Uwamu as this month's member of the month!
This exceptional young woman wrote a letter to the House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee expressing her concerns about powdered alcohol. The letter was delivered to the Committee as a part of the testimony on powdered alcohol TST's Director of Research and Advocacy, Atalie Nitibhon, provided on August 23, 2016.
In her letter, Uwamu discussed the dangers of powdered alcohol, as well as concerns about the lack of research around the product. As of the hearing, the product had been preemptively banned in 33 states. On Sept. 28, 2016, California joined the group when it passed legislation to ban the substance. Texas is one of three states that will allow the sale of powdered alcohol once the product becomes available.
Along with many parents and lawmakers, Uwamu shares the concern that powdered alcohol could create a new set of challenges in preventing youth alcohol abuse.
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